HICKMAN WIN SILVERSTONE
Kawasaki team has a mixed weekend but comes good in the end with a win and a fifth in race two
The Silverstone MCE BSB round was a real baptism of fire for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki squad with Peter Hickman, Leon Haslam and James Ellison experiencing almost every high and low that racing can offer.
Everything came good in the end with Peter Hickman’s superb second race win but that high point had been prefaced by a pole position for Haslam during qualifying, a crash that saw Ellison start the first race from the back of the grid and two DNFS because of engine failures in race one. Little wonder then that team boss Mark SmithHalvorsen was in tears as Hickman celebrated in the winner’s enclosure.
“The team has worked incredibly hard with this new bike and then there was so much disappointment in the first race,” he explained. “Then for Peter, who has been flying along beneath the radar, to get his first win with us, I was choked.”
The JG Speedfit mechanics worked flat out to replace the engines on Haslam and Hickman’s ZX-10RS between races. All of that work was worth the effort when Hickman triumphed and Haslam finished fifth.
“The engine problem was unfortunate because I genuinely thought I would have won the first race,” explained Hickman.
Throughout the second encounter Hickman led a high-speed snake that included Shakey Byrne on the Be Wiser Ducati, Tyco BMW’S Christian Iddon, Jason O’halloran on the Honda, and his team-mate before thwarting a fierce onslaught from Byrne in the final corners to take only his second BSB win in a decade of racing.
“I knew they were there because I had a look at the big TV screen at Brooklands and saw five of us in a line and thought ... jeez great!” he joked.
“That was the last thing I wanted to see and I deliberately defended a bit on the final lap as I knew Shakey was close because the Ducati is so loud. I braked too late at Brooklands and almost fluffed it but I just thought there is no way I have done all this work without winning and got on the gas.”
Throughout pre-season testing Hickman has struggled with a serious chatter problem and the team made a big change to the new ZX-10R for Silverstone.
“We changed the geometry, linkage, shock and forks on Friday morning and it has made the bike hard to ride,” Hickman explained. “It can be quite aggressive and snap back at you and it is very different from how I have been testing the bike, but it works. We took a bit of a gamble but it paid off today.”
The team are using Showa suspension for 2016 and adapting to the new system has also brought its frustrations.
“It is all really new and very different to what we are used to,” Hickman explained. “Leon is the only person who has ridden with it before so he has a step up on James and me. We aren’t against it but it has taken us longer than we would’ve wanted to understand it. When we aren’t getting to where we want to be we are really frustrated and that sometimes comes out in things we shouldn’t say. But I’ve just won the race so why would I want to change?”